From Misery to Meaning

Why do so many go through so much disruption in their middle years? Why then? What does it mean and how can we survive it? The Middle Passage shows how we can pass through midlife consciously, rendering the second half of life all the richer and more meaningful… More here.

A highly enlightening book which I found just at the right time.

Selfie: How the West Became Self-Obsessed

We are living in an age of heightened individualism. Success is a personal responsibility. Our culture tells us that to succeed is to be slim, rich, happy, extroverted, popular – flawless.

The pressure to conform to this ideal has changed who we are. We have become self-obsessed. And our expectation of perfection comes at a cost. Millions are suffering under the torture of this impossible fantasy… More here.

Another one to add to my ever growing reading list.

The HUAWEI MatePad Paper

There’s more than just books though, as this seems like a fully-functioning productivity device with emails, calendars, certain apps available to download from the Huawei App Gallery, handwriting conversion (using the stylus), connectivity between the Paper and a smartphone or PC, voice recording, video playback and more… More here.

Almost. This does look good, but the limitations of e-ink remain. Give me an e-ink phone that does most things and I would be on board in a heartbeat.

Buy your books from Waterstones, not WH Smith

“When the last Richard Osman came out, Penguin bought the number one spot on all WH Smith in-store bestseller charts so it had to be displayed as the bestseller in every single store, whether it actually was or not,” Barry Pierce, who worked at the retailer from 2020 to 2021, recently claimed on social media…

…Waterstones itself previously accepted millions of pounds each year from publishers to position titles in its “bestseller” charts, but Mr Daunt said he put an end to these deals as soon as he was appointed.

“Since I took over in 2011, Waterstones has never taken one penny to place books [on shelves]. The year before, Waterstones took £27 million [from publishers],” Mr Daunt said… More here.

This is not the only difference between the two stores. Go into WH Smith and you are greeted by untidy, often dirty, stores and very high prices all around. Plus disinterested staff and a sense of ‘how the hell are they still in business?’

Go into Waterstones and the stores are inviting, clean and tidy, and the staff could not be more helpful. It is always a pleasant experience.

You can’t replace the feel of turning a real page

That trend undermines the tech companies’ seductive promises that apps and platforms will always and inevitably eclipse physical objects. The unexpected triumph of printed books – partly a result of their enhanced design values – proves that not all upgrades represent progress… More here.

I kind of like this trend, but it most certainly does not apply to me. Since reading an eBook on a Psion 3 series many years ago I have only read digitally since, and almost always on an e-ink reader.

Anne E Currie’s “Panopticon” series, books 1 and 2 reviewed

The books are set in the relatively near future – 2025 onwards – and revolve around three key events:

the creation of the Panopticon, the all-seeing surveillance state, which some love and some hate. Crime is almost – but not entirely – wiped out.
the “Hot Summer” of 2036. The author describes this as “The Hot Summer: fires, floods, ice storms, and tornados engulf the globe. Over one billion are killed. Mass exoduses occur from many land masses and areas. The refugee population surges.” More here.

I bought book 1 following an earlier tweet from Neil. There are not many people in the world whose opinion I would trust on most things, but Neil is one of them.

Why the iPad mini 6 is (not) the perfect e-reader

There are always books that sound interesting to me, both fiction and non-fiction, and I buy a few per year, but I rarely get a chance to immerse myself in them. The iPad mini 6 has changed that, though, and I’ve read more since owning one than I had for a long time prior. It’s clearly the best iPad to use as an e-reader, and it might just be the best e-reader period… More here.

A curiosity of an article and one that seems to be reaching. There is no part of the iPad that makes it a better e-reader than a Kindle. From the screen to battery life to price to the singular focus on one task, every Kindle kills every iPad for reading (in my humble opinion).

Is the Kindle Paperwhite 2021 (11th generation) worth the money?

Yes. Yes it is.

The new Paperwhite does look and feel like the previous Paperwhite, and the one before that and so on.

A Kindle, however, does not need to surprise with amazing new features and clever tricks because to do so would be to negate what they are design to be, which is to mimic books as closely and naturally as possible.

The new 6.8″ display is the big bonus here and, to me, it does offer a very similar reading experience to the Oasis which is a mere 0.2″ bigger in screen dimensions.

It is now waterproof against accidental immersion in up to two metres of fresh water for up to 60 minutes and up to 0.25 metres of seawater for up to 3 minutes which is of course handy and the battery has been upped to 10 weeks.

USB-C is here to speed up charging and to make dealing with multiple cables a little easier and the Signature edition (£50 extra) throws in wireless charging, audiobooks, auto-adjusting light sensors and a charging cradle.

With warm lighting now available, a must have feature for me, it has all of the features of the Kindle Oasis apart from the hardware page turn buttons. The Oasis also feels more premium, the Paperwhite is a fingerprint magnet of extreme proportions, but when you consider the price difference (£129 vs £229) it is hard to recommend the Oasis.

After 10 minutes of use!

The Oasis is a brilliant eReader and in my opinion the best available today, but it is 2 years old and so I don’t believe that £229 is worthwhile when there is likely a new model around the corner. The Paperwhite is slightly quicker than the Oasis in use, it includes every feature of the Oasis in the Signature edition and it offers the kind of reading experience the majority will want.

Is the Paperwhite worth £129? Absolutely yes. Is the Paperwhite Signature edition worth £179? That’s more difficult because the Oasis is a more premium feeling device and those hardware buttons are advantageous, but for me I would suggest that the new Paperwhite is the new eReading king of the hill when it comes to value.

I still want to see a folding Kindle, I really do. When I hold the Paperwhite in landscape and imagine it folded in half the size would be perfect for any pocket and to enable the user to carry their library of books anywhere.

The Lightless Sky

The boy who fled Afghanistan and endured a terrifying journey in the hands of people smugglers is now a young man intent on changing the world. His story is a deeply harrowing and incredibly inspiring tale of our times… More here.

Some people commenting on this today would benefit from reading this book.

Reading nook ideas

Reading nook ideas can take advantage of a home’s features such as a bay window or an alcove. But they can equally be designed into a square or rectangular room, allowing these regularly shaped spaces to provide the cozy surroundings you crave.

A reading nook should be intimate, so creating one or even a few around a home won’t involve the sacrifice of large amounts of space. What is crucial, though, is seating to spend time on, and colors and textures that are appealing… More here.

I wouldn’t go as far as creating a ‘nook’, but I do find that I have to read in very particular places to really enjoy a book. It’s an odd thing, but true.